“The U” starts in Tampa Bay? Hurricanes pound the Bay Area

When I think of a pipeline, many different images circulate and flash through my head like one of the old slide shows from grade school. You know which ones I’m talking about right? The ones in the early years of our schooling lives we thought were cool because the lights were off then even cooler in high school because the lights were off? (You see what I did there?)

There are big lines like the ones that funnel oil through some of the most rugged terrain in North America built to last a lifetime to the small ones that carry waste out to the septic tank from your house that are built to break at some point requiring you to have the feeling you should have just burned your money with the oil from the aforementioned. Both of them require some extensive construction and cost insane amounts of money to fix. Both require someone to keep them from shutting down. Both are equally valuable no matter the size to your standard of living. (I will get to this shortly.)

coolchaser.com | photo credit

You see there’s a “defensive line” of storms brewing in Hillsborough County and it’s reached beyond depression status. No my friends, we must batten down the hatches soon or else Jim Cantore will be reporting live from Skyway Park instead of Drew Felios to let us all know that the Hurricanes of Miami have set up shop in our backyard and we never saw it coming. I always say when Cantore shows up, you’re screwed. This time, it’s Al Golden playing the part of old’ JC. Instead of wearing swim goggles and recreating scenes that should have ‘Yakity Sacks’ in the background, “everybody’s gone crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed man” as a couple of rockers once said.

Under the “watchful eyes” of Randy Shannon the Hurricanes seemingly managed to turn this (and every other part of the state starting with Dade & Broward) from what was thought of to be the Persian Gulf of prep football into a frozen tundra that cracked and spilled sewage instead of black gold like the image created in the opening of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” It has not been pretty for the ‘Canes to say the least, but the dude who wears ties in the oppressive heat causing him to look like a day-trader with hyperactive sweat glands has all but sent Sebastian the Ibis to parade down Dale Mabry with a sign that says “LOL Suckas!” in the past year and a half. I’m half expecting Joe Zagacki to start a show with Sileo in the fall.

Anthony Chickillo

Last year, it was Anthony Chickillo. That was a given. Or at least that was an accurately assumed position of Anthony staying loyal and being a third generation player following his grandfather and dad who both played at “The U” and in the NFL. He was joining Tampa Bay Tech’s Maurice Hagens (who is a junior this fall.) This year, we didn’t see it coming (actually *cough* I did towards the end) until a certain Jefferson High School standout decided to take his talents to South Beach.

We already saw the outer bands with commitments from Admiral Farragut’s Rayshawn Jenkins and Countryside’s Gray Crow, and we got hit with a pretty good squall when Hillsborough’s Earl Moore (6-2, 291lbs) decided to head down to Coral Gables and try to become the next Warren Sapp or Russell Maryland run-stuffer that Miami hasn’t seen in quite some time.

The outer bands turned into the landfall of the northeast quadrant though when Tyriq McCord announced on live television from San Antonio during the Army all American Bowl. Not for the obvious reasons in my head though. With Chickillo already in place finishing 3rd in the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, and with redshirt senior Darius Smith the only returning starter on the line there’s room for both McCord AND Moore to see time and make impact plays almost from day one. It’s the possible addition of Class of 2013’s Jordan Sherit that has me wondering if it’s time to break out the FEMA Tarps and declaring this a state of emergency to our region.

Earl Moore

Surely I’m not comparing these young men to the death and destruction that ACTUAL tropical cyclones cause and surely I’m not trying to make light nor push the boundaries of laziness with repeated storm references that actually work quite well. I’m actually thinking this isn’t the roar of winds, but the roar of construction. It’s the banging of hammers on metal and buzzing of drills quickly piecing together the foundation and necessary elements to tap and maintain a valued resource (mainly, dudes that can get after it on the defensive front.)

I say the pipeline is in place and the rig has been built and tapped ladies and gents. So does long-time resident of South Florida, one of the biggest ‘Canes Fans I’ve personally met and nationally recognized prep scout Larry Blustein as well; or at least there’s the indication that a new one has been built in place of the old, dilapidated leaky faucet and they’re trying to get someone from TECO to turn the damn power on. (Something about a bounced check from a Mr. Shapiro. I think they’ve fixed that issue.)

“Miami has long had a good relationship with Hillsborough County. Players such as Bernard Clark (Leto ‘85) and Maurice Crum (Hillsborough ’87) followed a number of athletes from the region in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s who headed to Coral Gables.” Blustein said in an email shortly after the McCord Commitment.

“Through the years, while Miami headed to that part of the state, it was always a second thought and not a priority…What Al Golden and his staff have made clear – with Anthony Chickillo, last year, and Tryiq McCord, in this class – is this regime is putting a line across the state from Orlando to Tampa Bay and making it a priority to go after the best players every year!”

I think that’s a pretty strong case for acknowledgement that there’s been some lean (or dry) moments in production and exploration, but this is a new era of energy exploration and if you can’t produce it in your own backyard then go to someone else’s and take it right?

Especially if the untapped resources (our players) have been researched (via the recruiting process & their academic qualifications) and justified as worthy of the expenditures necessary (meaning they’ve expressed a genuine desire to provide their services) to repair the pipeline (spending the money on recruiting against the big guys even with pending investigations into the program) needed to make this whole thing work like a *cough* *rimshot* well-oiled machine.

Let’s not forget about the least-talked about element in all of this. Maybe the passing reference to Coach Golden looking like he’s a slightly portlier version of Boone from Animal House playing with the E-Trade baby in a sauna isn’t so far-fetched. Maybe he’s making his money ERRR his players do the hard work for him? Chickillo talks to McCord, now Moore gets a chance to work on Sherit. How hard do you have to work (beyond the norm) to get kids to WANT to come to Miami and NOT just hang out on Collins Ave. or in Coconut Grove?

Listen, this isn’t rocket science although many of Miami’s Undergrads can academically qualify to be actual rocket scientists. Maybe, just maybe the fact that over half of the new freshman (per UM’s Website) walking around campus graduated in the top 5% of their class, with almost 75% having finished in the top 10% of their class coupled with the ability to put kids that can be trusted in front of other kids that can be trusted to convey your message is working. ALL of these kids mentioned are good students. This has played a role for sure.

I don’t know everything about these kids obviously, but what I DO KNOW of the ones that are playing there, headed there, and COULD be playing there is that they’re kids that fit the program. They’re the kind of kids that probably looked at Miami’s teacher-student class ratio and said they couldn’t get any smaller if they went to Stetson or Wake Forest. (Over 50% of classes for undergrads have 16 or fewer students while 75% have 26 or fewer.) If these young men go down there, become ballers and come back with enough “positive” experiences it is hard NOT to sell Miami to a kid. What once smelled like a septic tank is now like roses…or grass and sweat.

Maybe it’s time to finish getting our places boarded up and start turning on Abrams & Bettes or maybe even Dennis Phillips and his insane suspenders. Maybe it’s time we start calling the EPA and tell them there’s a huge pipe running throughout our area and we would like it checked for any cracks or leaks. Maybe, just maybe it’s time to simply grab our rain slickers or hardhats and go to work at maintaining yet another mode of shipping our talent to and from wherever. You decide. I’m going to join Sebastian on Dale Mabry with a sign that reads, “Seminoles for Shannon in ’13.” I’m nervous. That’s some high-quality crude and rude that’s headed to play some ball in Coral Gables for the foreseeable future.